Susan's Shanghai Blog - Karuizawa (subset of Week 40)

This is a subset of the Week 40 Shanghai blog. In the redesign of the website, I've split Karuizawa out.

We set aside time in our Tokyo trip to play golf, and decided on Karuizawa. We took the Shikensen bullet train early that morning towards Nagano, getting off at the small resort town of Karuizawa. We took the Asama 511 train (the 2nd one on the sign) leaving Tokyo Station at 9:20am. It is only about an hour up to the Japanese Alps via the bullet train.

These next pictures are just random pictures that I took from the train, showing the smaller towns and the mountains outside of Tokyo.

We took a taxi to the hotel but it was too early to check in (which we had anticipated) so we grabbed the things we needed for our round of golf and left the rest at the hotel. The golf courses are down the street from our hotel and we rented bicycles to get around town with. About 15 minutes later, we were all checked in! We grabbed lunch and then headed out to the carts. The carts were pretty intersting, as they were 4-person carts, which we don't see much of in the US. We were using rental clubs since it was going to be just too much hassle to drag our clubs from China to Japan and through Tokyo and up to the Alps on trains. Since it was only 2 rounds, renting seemed the best option.

The course was really nice, and it was very sunny and hot. It weaved through trees and you could see the mountains (the Japanese Alps) in the background.

Every once in awhile, we come across this sign ... no clue though ... hopefully it isn't saying anything like "be on the lookout for killer animals!".

For dinner, we again took our bikes and rode into the downtown area. Interstingly enough, the travel books talks about how there will be "hoards" of tourists in July but the town was relatively empty. We even had a bit of a problem finding restaurants there and finally ended up at a little Japanese Curry place near the train station. Although we were (again) alone in the restaurant, the food was really good ... we have found that we really do like Japanese Curry since moving to Asia .. not something we really find much at home. We also found out that 8pm is when the restaurants CLOSE in the town, as we left the restaurant and couldn't get coffee since the coffee place next door had just closed.

Our 2nd round of golf ...his was at another course in the same group, and is one that the Ladies professional tour plays an event at each year. We again too our bikes and we found that it was a problem! The day started out very cold and we were not prepared for cold weather, having only shorts. Being on bikes made it even colder, and we found that it was a bit further away than we though .. we kept wondering if we were ever going to reach the course. We finally did, got checked in, and introduced to our caddy for the day (she didn't speak english, we didn't do japanese). The first thing that was unique were the carts .. they were self-driving carts. You'll see (through the fog) the 2 tire tracks .. those are what the carts ride on, and the caddy can drive the cart forward via remote control .. kinda cool! We played the first 9 through a little bit of fog, and at the turn, basically you have lunch. We were given a 12:12 2nd 9 tee time and pointed upstairs towards the restaurant.

The restaurant was just one big room and nice enough. Looking around, it looked like most of the time, you ate with your 4-some. Lots of windows, which was nice, overlooking the course. While we were eating lunch, it started to rain and then it absolutely poured! You couldn't see more than a foot out the windows for the rain coming down. We then headed back out to pick up our back 9 in a light rain.

By the time we teed off, the clouds had landed and you literally couldn't see the fairway in front of you. The caddy had a radio and was communicating (we assume) with the caddy in the group in front of us to find out where they were so she could tell us when it was safe to hit. It was basically unplayable, since you hit your white golf ball into a white blanket and so while you have an idea where it was going, you really have no clue. I had one par 3 that I hit the ball what I thought was really nice and perfectly straight, but we never found the ball. We looked short and long of the green as well as right and left. No idea. I keep thinking that it was SO good that it hit the flagstick but then it could have bounced anywhere, and it was lost. When we finished, we packed back up and rode our bikes back to the hotel.

It had turned a bit chilly and we really hadn't packed for cold weather, so we decided to catch a taxi into the center of the town so that we could walk around and look at things. We walked up the Ginza shopping street, which is a nice pedestrian area with lots of shops and restaurants. We took a side road to find St Paul's Catholic Church, which is a quaint wooden church built in 1935.

Dinner was ramen at another small little place near the train station.